Every vicar must be a preacher, a teacher, a visitor, an organizer, good to all his parishioners, both young and old, something of a businessman, in character firm but gentle, strong but tactful, able to handle dissatisfied parishioners, to lead the various church organizations in paths of wisdom, to cheer the sick and admonish the sinner, to be all things to all and yet to preserve his own self-respect, dignity and independence. The parish priest is the head of his organization; as such he must be able to decide how best to administer his own parish.
We give below brief life-sketches of vicars of St. Andrew’s parish:
Fr. Caesar D’Mello: 2014 – to date. Fr. Caesar De Mello was ordained a priest on 20 Dec 1969. After completing his MA and B.Ed in 1976 he was sent to Rome for 5 years where he acquired a doctorate in Moral Theology. On his return to India he spent the next 23 years at St. Pius X College Goregaon, first as professor and then as Rector and Dean of studies in the seminary. He was professor of Theology to women religious and has conducted courses for lay people. While continuing to be professor in the seminary, Fr Caesar was Parish Priest of Good Shepherd Church, Versova, and head of the Andheri Deanery. In 2008, he was appointed Rector of the Holy Name Cathedral and head of the South Mumbai Deanery. With effect from June 1, 2012, Fr. Caesar is the Episcopal Vicar of South Mumbai and Bandra Deaneries. His appointment as Parish Priest of St. Andrew Church, Bandra took effect from 1 June 2014.
Fr. Michael Goveas: Parish priest from 2010 to 2014. He was born on 28th September 1940 and was ordained on 21st December 1966. Fr. Michael joined the seminary from St. Ignatius’ Church, Jacob Circle and also has an elder sister who is a Good Shepherd nun. Even in his seminary days, he was known as a musician and excelled in Gregorian chant. Before the Sunday mass he would teach the congregation the antiphon for the Responsorial Psalm. He worked in many parishes first as an assistant and later as parish priest. He was often elected Dean and later appointed by the Cardinal Diocesan Consultor and a member of the Conciliation Panel. He will be long remembered for his work with SCCs and the Good News catechism.
Fr. Vernon Aguiar: Parish priest from 2003 to 2010. Fr. Vernon was born on 7th October 1939 and was ordained on 20th December 1967. He comes from a deeply religious family with an elder brother a priest and an elder sister, a member of the Poor Sisters of Our Lady. Soon after his ordination he was deputed to do his B.Ed and from then on served in many schools as principal. Before being appointed to St. Andrew’s, he was parish priest at Our Lady of Salvation, Dadar. At St. Andrew’s he under took the restoration of the old church registers with the help of INTACH, LUCKNOW. During his tenure, he had a batch of young, dynamic priests, who worked well together as a team and infused life into the parish.
Fr. Peter Drego: Was parish priest of St. Andrew’s from 1997 to 2003. He was born on 28the June, 1933 and ordained on 21st December 1959. During the first years of his ministry he served at Our Lady of Bethlehem, Dongre, then Our Lady of the Sea, Uttan and later Agashi. He served two terms at Our Lady of Assumption, Kandivli and in his second term he was responsible for building a church. He was also the parish priest at Kurla and Thane before coming to St. Andrew’s. He was an artist, very fond of singing, dramatics and a comedian. He was well liked as parish priest.
Rev. Fr. Cleophas Fernandes 1995- 1997: Ordained priest on 24th April 1976, Fr. Cleophas has had a varied range of experiences. He served as Assistant Parish Priest at Rosary Church, Mazagaon, Assistant at the Diocesan Pastoral Centre, then went to France to do a Masters in Catechetics, spent six months at Vasai and was then appointed Director, Diocesan Pastoral and Catechetical Centre and served two successive terms as Dean of Bandra Deannery. Among Fr. Cleophas’ many noteworthy contributions to the life of the Church in Bombay, are the organization of the historic Priests’ Consultation of 1990 from which has emerged the Parish Pastoral Plan for the Archdiocese of Bombay; the formation of the Catechetical Training Course, and in-service training for those engaged in catechizing; he was also selected to serve on the International Comission for Catechetics of the Vatican for a six year term. In this, his second year as Parish Priest of St. Andrew’s, he has in no small measure worked towards building a more participative and communitarian parish through his encouragement, support and active collaboration in every aspect of parish life.
1981-1995: Msgr. Nereus Rodrigues: Ordained in 1949 from the Diocesan Seminary, Rev. Fr. Nereus Rodrigues got his first appointment as curate at St. Andrew’s Church besides being o the teaching staff of the school. The promising qualities of an educationist were recognized by the ecclesiastical authorities of the Archdiocese who in 1953 sent him for post graduate studies at the Institute of Education, London. Subsequently, he obtained his doctorate in Canon Law at the Pontifical Athenaeum, Rome. On his return in 1957, he was appointed Vice-Principal of St. Andrew’s School and then as Principal in 1959. He was appointed as Parish Priest of St. Andrew’s Church from June 1981 – May 1995. During his tenure at St. Andrew’s he instituted the Finance Committee. He was instrumental in renovating the Parochial House, now “Andrenelle”. If St. Andrew’s can be proud of a college of its very own and a prestigious auditorium, it is due to his indefatigable efforts.
1978-1981: Msgr. Hillary Rodrigues: Was ordained 7.12.1954 and appointed Parish Priest of St. Andrew’s Church from June 1978. It was mainly due to Msgr. Hillary’s dynamism and enthusiasm that St. Andrew’s had an extension to the new school building and later a Junior College. Visualising the need for youth participation in liturgical services, he encouraged dramatization and audiovisual presentation of Biblical themes as a regular youth activity in the Bosco Hall. He also started the Neo-Catechumenate Movement and neighbourhood Masses which paved the way for the present Small Christian Communities.
1970-1978: Msgr. Jonathan Dias: Was ordained on 21.12.1946 and served at St. Andrew’s Church as Parish Priest from July 1970 to May 1978. During his vicarship, the first parish census was carried out and the Andrean Vista ’76 was published. The first Parish Council was instituted. While at St. Andrew’s Msgr. Jonathan endeared himself to his parishioners and is fondly remembered for his joi de vivre. It is interesting to note that Msgr. Jonathan Dias celebrated his sacerdotal golden jubilee in 1996.
1961-1970: Rev. Msgr. George Fernandes: When officially inducted as Vicar on 2nd July, 1961, His Eminence Valerian Cardinal Gracias, referring to Msgr. George could make no better assurance than: “The parish of St. Andrew’s has a special character about it and being the oldest parish it has to be an example to neighbouring parishes. I can say before God that I have given to St. Andrew’s the best priest suited to it”. Suffice it is to say that the assurance given has been honoured. A healthy spiritual life is the core of a parish and the efforts made in this direction bear witness in the intensified devotional life practices for girls, boys and Marathi speaking parishioners; the drive for a true Catholic Home atmosphere; and the solving of social problems that can affect moral values. In 1964, Msgr. George was made a Domestic Prelate. His indomitable drive and courage saw the extension of the church become a reality. He died in service as Vicar and was interred in his favorite place – in front of the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes. A special Souvenir was brought out in 1966 to commemorate the extension of the Church.
1960-1961: Rev. Fr. Blaise Nazareth: As acting Vicar he earned the esteem and affection of all his parishioners. He left St. Andrew’s to take up his new appointment as Vicar of the Church of St. Vincent de Paul, Chuim.
1947-1960: Rev. Fr. Henry J. Remedios was born at Waroda Road, Bandra, on 15th July 1897. He started his primary studies in St. Stanislaus and matriculated from St. Xavier’s High School. He took his Bachelor of Arts Degree at St. Xavier’s College, Bombay and later the L.C.P. diploma. After teaching for one year in Antonio da Silva High School, Dadar, he entered the Kandy Seminary in Ceylon and was ordained on 2nd October, 1927. He was appointed Curate of St. Andrew’s and Principal of the School in 1931 and after ten years was transferred as Vicar at Papdy, Bassein. In 1947, he returned to St. Andrew’s as its Vicar. His lovable nature very soon endeared him to his parishioners. He started the Legion of Mary in this parish, the Perpetual Novena to Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal, the Parish Ways and Means Committee and the Parish monthly News Bulletin ‘The Andrean Notes” in 1950. In October 1952, his Sacerdotal Silver Jubilee was celebrated by the Parish on a grand scale. During his vicariate the Girls’ Section of St. Andrew’s High School was entrusted to the care of the Apostolic Carmel Sisters. In 1953 under his guidance the first Parish Zonal Contest was started. In February 1950, he geared the whole parish into a united effort for a magnificent celebration of the Silver Jubilee of the Consecration of Bandra to Christ the King. This effort cost him dearly; for immediately after the event, his health suddenly failed him and ultimately forced him to resign as the Vicar in 1960. Virendra and Lourdes Catholic Colonies belonging to the Parish are the result of his efforts to provide housing for Catholic families.
1943-1947: Rev Fr. Vivian Dyer was born in Byculla. At the early age of 16 he entered Kandy Seminary, Ceylon and there took the Ph.D and D.D. He was ordained priest in 1931 and served as an Assistant at Gloria Church, Byculla and St. Ignatius Church, Jacob Circle. He took his M.A. Degree at the National University of Dublin. He was Secretary to Archbishop Roberts until 1943, when he was appointed Vicar of St. Andrew’s. In 1947, he was appointed Vicar General of the Archdiocese and took up his residence at Mount Mary’s Church, as Rector. In 1959, he was consecrated Titular Archbishop Co-adjudtor with right of succession to the Archbishop of Calcutta whom he eventually succeeded. He died in Calcutta in 1962.
1919-1943: Rev. Dominic de Sa: “What good can come out of the poor village of Agashi?” A baby born there on January 4, 1880, was soon to give the answer as eloquent as ever it could be …. Dominic de Sa. He was destined to become a man of brain and heart, a brilliant scholar and linguist, a cultured and affable dignitary and a doyen of the Bombay Hierarchy, loved, respected and admired by one and all. After his High School studies, he took a complete course in Marathi and then entered the Seminary at Damaun. He was ordained priest on 29th June, 1904 at Colaba. After serving at several parishes, in 1919, he was appointed Vicar of ST. Andrew’s where he found a fertile field for his boundless enthusiasm. With the ready cooperation of his parishioners and with his administrative ability, he made St. Andrew’s the leading parish of the diocese. Deeply convinced of the need for a good school with the most up-to-date equipment and facilities, he purchased a spacious plot of land and went ahead with building a new school laying the foundation stone in the year 1926. The next year the grey stone building was completed. St. Andrew’s High School is a lasting memorial to him. His innate desire was to foster vocations to the priesthood even providing the funds when needed and his inspiring influence led several aspirants to the vineyard the Lord, year after year, which was a unique achievement. Yet another of his memorable achievements in 1935 was the bringing together of all parishes in Mumbai for the gigantic ceremony – the Consecration of Bandra to Christ the King around the new monument and statue set up in the St. Andrew’s Church compound. He received the title of Monsignor from Pope Pius XII in 1941. In the twenty-fourth year of his vicariate, he left St. Andrew’s in 1943 to become the first Rector of Mount Mary’s which was made a Church in that year. He died on 24th January, 1950 and was interred in a grave in the vestry of St. Andrew’s Church.
1913-1919: Rev. Jose Napolesim came from Portugal and proved himself to be a clever and capable Vicar.
1904-1913: Rev. Peter Fernandes was born in Chuim. He belonged to the Bombay Diocese and his services were lent to the Bishop of Damaun who appointed him Vicar of St. Andrew’s in 1904. He completed the chapel at Mt. Mary’s in time for the grand celebration of the Declaration of the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception. In 1906, he built the new central altar in St. Andrew’s Church. He founded the League of St. Anthony’s Guild in 1910. In 1993 he resigned as Vicar of St. Andrew’s.
1895-1904: Rev. Placid Hilario Henriques was born on 5th October, 1860 in Thane. He began his educational career in the Parish school at Thane, later in St. Xavier’s High School and then he went to the Rachol Seminary. He was appointed Curate at the Church of Our Lady of Salvation at Dadar, went on to be Vicar at the Church of the Holy Magi in Gorai, returned to Dadar as Vicar and finally became Vicar of St. Andrew’s Church. It was his privilege to witness the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception, declared in 1904. To mark this great event, Fr. Henriques set about collecting funds for the erection of the magnificent chapel of Our Lady of the Mount but he was transferred before the work was completed.